Bagels with Zaatar and Labneh

Bagels with Zaatar and Labneh

The bagel’s recipe is inspired by “The Sophisticated Gourmet”

Makes 8 bagels

I love bread – all kinds of bread! Yes, yes my favorite thing on the planet.

I am a breakfast person and breakfast means, bread and tea – it is my most enjoyable meal and I can’t understand how some people skip it.

I grew up eating labneh, zaatar and olives accompanied with Arabic bread or French baguette – a staple breakfast in almost all Lebanese homes.

Bagels too are one of the breads that I like and since I cannot get my hands on bagels in Kinshasa, I thought of baking them at home, so note that this is my first attempt to make them. Thanks to the “Sophisticated Gourmet” for such a great recipe. I followed their ingredients except that I fermented the dough in the fridge overnight and added honey to the steaming water. The recipe is so easy to put together, yet it requires some time. I love the steaming technique in making bagels.

Bagels are so versatile and can go with anything. I sprinkled mine with zaatar and stuffed them with labné and olives to customize them to my Lebanese taste buds, and really enjoyed every bit of these freshly baked treats – though my youngest son insisted that the piping hot bagels go best with smoked salmon, cream cheese and capers and for a more indulging bagel, toast it and drench it with butter and salt! How delicious!

  • 31/2 cups bread flour
  • 11/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 11/4 cups or a bit more lukewarm water
  • 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 11/2 tablespoons honey, for the boiling water

Topping: Zaatar
Black olives

  1. In a large ceramic bowl, place the flour, sugar, active dry yeast and salt. Mix well.
  2. Add the lukewarm water gradually, stirring with your hands until you have a smooth dough.
  3. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 2 hours to double in bulk.
  4. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and punch the dough into 8 equal balls.
  5. Take each ball of the dough and poke a 4 cm / 1.5 inch hole through the center with your thumb.
  6. Transfer the bagels on a large sheet coated with flour. Cover with a kitchen towel and refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 7 hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220°C /425°F.
  8. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the honey and poach 3 bagels at a time for 40 seconds on each side.
  9. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them on a sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels.
  10. Delicately transfer the bagels to a lightly greased baking sheet. Sprinkle the top of the bagels with zaatar.
  11. Bake in the preheated oven, for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and when easy to handle cut the bagels with a knife and stuff with labneh and black olives or simply with your favorite stuffing! Enjoy!

Zaatar: A blend that is incredibly versatile in its utility. Standard ingredients include thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and oregano. You can find zaatar at Middle Eastern grocery stores.

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